New Year’s Resolutions: A Manifesto

I have seen many lists of New Year’s Resolutions around the blogosphere this month. People are setting admirable goals for themselves, and you would think that I, having had a highly successful round of New Year’s Resolutions from 2010, would be raring to set still more awesome goals for myself this year. In fact the exact opposite is true. All through January of 2011 I have shied away from making Resolutions, even in my brain, because I think that in general they are unrealistic and ultimately a self-esteem suck. Having goals is one thing, but New Year’s Resolutions tends to be something slightly more idealistic, and thus more fraught with the potential for failure.

Well, dear ones, I have found an alternative. I have opened up a glorious future for us all. Your lives will never be the same. Here is what I’m proposing: Retroactive New Year’s Resolutions. This is the cure for all resolutions-related depression. I will explain.

I have a purple blanket, which my daddy made for me and which I have had since I can remember. As I was tucking myself into bed a week ago, I tugged too hard on the frilly border of the blanket and ripped a long strip of the border away from the lining. This weekend I sewed it back together again, and as I was sewing it (by hand, which took two episodes of The Good Wife) I felt really proud of myself for sewing it so successfully. (I don’t sew.) I kind of wished I had made a New Year’s Resolution to sew something together that wasn’t buttons. So I decided, I did make that New Year’s Resolution. That happened. And now I have accomplished it. Yay me! No wonder I feel so proud: I accomplished a resolution!

This is how New Year’s Resolutions should work. Every time you accomplish something difficult that you’re proud of, you should make a retroactive New Year’s Resolution to do that thing. I feel so happy right now, after having sewed my blanket back together. If you did a scan of my brain at this moment, I bet you would find it’s being flooded with serotonin and dopamine. I bet you would find my brain responding like it would respond to delicious food and revenge. Bloggy friends, I want this feeling for you. Join me in making retroactive New Year’s Resolutions the norm. It’s a foolproof recipe for a reward chemical cocktail of awesome.

I’ll start. Jenny’s 2011 New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Sew something together that isn’t buttons.
2. Fall in love with a book translated from Spanish.
3. Modify several existing recipes to create one amalgam recipe, and then use that amalgam recipe to cook an official food of Louisiana and have it come out awesome.
4. Read more translated modern poetry and find a translated modern poet to love.

Done and done and done and done! Go Jenny! 2011 is shaping up to be a huge success, and I feel awesome about myself! These aren’t, of course, my only New Year’s Resolutions. There will be more. I’ll find out what they are as the year goes on, and when I do, I will be sure to let you know. Anyone want to join me? Have you accomplished anything that can be retroactively made into a resolution? Alternately, do you think my plan is insane and self-serving? Have any refinements to suggest?

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75 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions: A Manifesto

  1. That’s a brilliant idea! Instead of setting ourselves goals that we might not achieve, we should focus on the things that we have. By doing that, I think that at the end of the year we will feel good about ourselves, rather than having the usual sense of failure!

    So, so far me this year I’ve:

    1) Read 2 books (one of which I hated, but I managed to complete it)

    2) Reached my 30th birthday with a positive attitude. During the time which ran up to my birthday I was getting more and more depressed. However I decided that this was not the attitude to take, as my life isn’t over because I’ve reached this number! In the end, I was much happier.

    3) Managed to write 10,888 words (so far), in only 6 months

    I think that if everyone participating in having ‘Retroactive New Year’ Resolutions’, then people might be just a little bit happier with their lives.

    • Wow! Congratulations! Those are three admirable resolutions! I am amazed at how accurately you were able to predict the number of words you were going to write. πŸ˜€

      • Thanks, I have also managed to start a new blog too… I like being busy!

        As for predicting the number of words I have written, I cheated and used word count!

  2. I love this idea! I actually sewed a button back on to one of my shirts this morning, something which I’ve been meaning to do for months. So I guess that’s my retroactive resolution πŸ™‚

    • Well done you! I find button-sewing extremely satisfying. It takes very little skill (or else I wouldn’t be able to do it), and it makes my trousers last longer.

  3. Oh no I have loads of clothes with fall off buttons I have yet to sew them on! 😦

    I’m doing it your way for some reading challenges. Once I finished a few books and if it fits into a certain categories, I’ll sign up for ‘that’ challenge and post all my reviews at the same time. Is that retrospective or what? πŸ™‚

  4. I took my daughter to her first Broadway musical yesterday even though I had no desire to see it (well, it was a touring show, since we’re thousands of miles away). So I can check that off my list. I love this retroactive resolutions idea!

  5. LOL you crack me up, Jenny! Hmm, let’s see. I resolve to take time out of my schedule to visit my brother at his military base… done. And also, I resolve to have a good month of January at work (a large part of my $ is commission)… done, well almost done. πŸ˜‰

    You’re right, this is fun!

  6. PURE GENIUS.

    The only thing is…looking back over my January…I realize that I have done nothing resolution-worthy. *defeated* Wait, does acquiring a new crisis-counseling skill count?

  7. I resolve to have my correcting of class work done *before* final exams start on Tuesday. check!

    I resolve to clean out that kitchen cupboard and reorganize the appliances. check!

    I think you are on to something. It’s kind of like when you are making a list, and then you add to the list after you’ve finished something you forgot to put on the list, just so you can cross it off. I think you are on to something here.

    • Oh yeah, I do that all the time when I am making lists. Congratulations on accomplishing your classwork corrections so swiftly, and reorganizing your kitchen things!

  8. Is there a LIKE button here somewhere? No, I take it back. I LOVE the idea! Except that eh, I don’t do resolutions. New Year’s resolutions, I mean. Which complicates things because eh, I LOVE the idea πŸ™‚ Happy New Year, Jenny!

    • I don’t do resolutions either. That’s why my idea is such a good one! You don’t have to make any resolutions until they have been accomplished, and then they’re already done so you never have to feel bad about yourself ever again.

      • Nope. You told me about your feat of sewingness, somewhat defensively, and didn’t mention your new years plan at all.

        On the other hand: yes, I am unimpressed by it. But I get seratonin from accomplishing things anyway.

  9. I think this is an excellent idea! I’ll have to think about what retroactive resolutions (retrolusions?) I’ve already accomplished in 2011 πŸ™‚

  10. This idea is made of win.

    I hereby resolve not to borrow any novels from the library for a whole week. I also resolve to try some new prepackaged Indian food from the grocery store. And to complete the first draft of my synopsis.

    Wow! Goals accomplished!

  11. I resolve to make it through the first three cold, gray weeks of January without completely giving in to seasonal depression. Done! Boy, I do feel better. Brilliant idea.

  12. I Love it! That’s what I do with To Do lists. I make them at lunch time or at dinner time and cross off everything I did that day so I feel useful. Sometimes I have to resort to adding things like “take a shower” and “comb my hair” but at least then I have a full list!

    • I do that when I want to feel productive on weekends. Taking a shower is a handy item because I feel all shiny clean afterwards AND I can cross it off my list. I also put things like “have coffee” and “eat a cookie”. I can do that if I want!

  13. Insane and self-serving and yes, I LOVE it. Not that I can think of anything that would qualify….. Oo Oo I know! I’ve managed a whole month of January (almost) without making any overly idealistic resolutions! I’m sure that must count. πŸ™‚

  14. Good for you for mending your blanket! You did your stitching in time and saved nine!

    Retroactive goals are the best. I never thought of using them for resolutions, but I use them with my to-do lists. It’s so unjustly discouraging when my list is still full of un-crossed-off items if I’ve just made a nasty phone call or cleaned the bathroom or started the crock pot. So I write: “Call ___” or whatever I’ve just done, and cross it out. I thought this was my own private vice, until the main character does it at the start of Five Dreamers and Emily. I think she even wrote something like, “make a cup of tea and drink it” on her list.

    • I saved like nine thousand stitches. If that whole lining had ripped off I would have been in a parlous state of weeping helplessly until my father could come get the blanket and fix it for me.

      Judging from the comments section of this post, your vice is pretty common. Not a vice at all actually! Just a sensible way of planning.

  15. I love retroactive resolutions, and have one to share too! I read my first classic for the year in January, and I loved it! It has been too long since I have read one, and I am really proud of myself for doing it. Totally great idea, Jenny. I am adopting this policy!

  16. Finish The Sea – check
    write review of The Sea – check
    Make a pie – check
    Visit Jenny’s blog and leave a comment- check
    .
    .
    By george, I think I’ve GOT it!
    (brilliant)

  17. Jenny, my dear, you are a genius!

    I resolve to figure out why I’m not losing weight. All done! I was eating more calories than I thought each day. πŸ™‚ Now to keep going with the actual changing of my habits. I’ll let you know if that becomes a resolution later in the year.

  18. lol, this is brilliant. New Year’s resolutions: Clean this flat like it’s NEVER BEEN CLEANED BEFORE; Read the Jack of Fables books so I can finally carry on with Fables proper. DONE AND DONE. #victoryisbelongtome

    • Oh, another reason this is a good plan is that New Year’s Resolutions are so sweeping — like, clean the flat every week! — that you can’t not feel bad about them. My system makes it more specific: clean your flat the week of the 25th, and then you’re all sorted out.

  19. Definitely love the purple dopamine blanket and such a simple list for resolutions…

    Can’t wait to see what you find that you love thats written in Spanish. One of my favorite is Like Water for Chocolate but everyone has read that. It is wonderful, short, sweet, and redemptive. Oh yes it has wonderful recipes..

    • Like Water for Chocolate was one of the first books I ever read that was translated from Spanish, and it wasn’t that great for me. It was a bit too much magical realism.

  20. Pingback: Praise please! « Jenny's Books

  21. Retroactive New Year’s Resolutions? I LOVE it!!!

    I am SO glad I’m out of my self-imposed thesis exile because I really, really missed reading your blog πŸ™‚

  22. Pingback: CAVAFY « Jenny's Books

  23. Pingback: Oh hey, it’s 2013. How about that. « alita.reads.

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